Don’t eat runny yolks! Health experts advise Americans to avoid eggs sunny side up because of BIRD FLU fears

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Americans are being warned to stay away from eggs with runny yolks amid increasing cases of bird flu in the US.

Speaking to DailyMail.com, A former FDA expert has urged people to cook their eggs thoroughly to kill off any lingering fragments of virus.

Farms in multiple states are struggling with outbreaks of the H5N1 strain among poultry and, for the first time, cattle. 

Earlier this week, health officials in Texas confirmed that a dairy farmer caught the virus, making him only the second-ever American to contract the disease. 

Food safety experts have warned against eating eggs with runny yolks, as they are not properly cooked and could increase the risk of contracting bird flu

Dr Detwiler notes that when chickens become infected, the virus can be present in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. 'Consequently, the virus can contaminate the birds' environment, including the eggs they lay,' he said

Dr Detwiler notes that when chickens become infected, the virus can be present in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. ‘Consequently, the virus can contaminate the birds’ environment, including the eggs they lay,’ he said

Dr Darin Detwiler, food safety expert at Northeastern University and former advisor to the FDA and USDA, told DailyMail.com: ‘Transmission of bird flu to humans through the consumption of properly cooked poultry products, including eggs, is very low. The risk arises with improperly cooked eggs or poultry meat.

‘Using pasteurized eggs or ensuring eggs are fully cooked could provide an additional layer of safety, reducing the risk of potential exposure to the virus.’

Bird flu often spreads from waterbirds like ducks and geese to chickens. Dr Detwiler notes that when chickens become infected, the virus can be present in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. 

‘Consequently, the virus can contaminate the birds’ environment, including the eggs they lay,’ he said. 

It’s similar to common foodborne illnesses like salmonella and E coli, which infect humans through animal products that are not fully cooked. 

Dr Detwiler, therefore, recommends customers be cautious about eggs that have runny yolks, which includes sunny side up, poached, soft boiled, and over easy. 

‘In the case of avian flu concerns, eggs should be cooked until both the white and yolk are firm, which ensures that the egg reaches a temperature that is likely to kill any viruses present,’ he said.

‘For dishes containing eggs, cooking to an internal temperature of 160 F (71 C) is recommended as a precaution to ensure safety as this is an effective kill step for bacteria and viruses, including the bird flu virus.’

‘If eggs are not cooked thoroughly (for example, if they are runny or soft-boiled), the virus might not be completely killed, which could potentially lead to infection if the eggs were contaminated.’

The above shows how bird flu is edging closer to human spillover in the US

The above shows how bird flu is edging closer to human spillover in the US

The above graph shows human cases of avian influenza globally reported by year. The colors represent different countries with the light blue being Egypt and the orange being Cambodia

The above graph shows human cases of avian influenza globally reported by year. The colors represent different countries with the light blue being Egypt and the orange being Cambodia

The largest egg producer in the US — Cal-Maine — revealed this week it would need to cull 2million birds after the virus was detected in its flock. 

Officials in Michigan are now also urging people to take enhanced measures to protect their flocks. 

Dr Detwiler warned that this could lead to increased egg prices and lack of availability in stores. ‘Outbreaks of bird flu in poultry can have significant economic impacts on the food industry, leading to the culling of infected birds and disruptions in poultry product supply chains,’ he said. 

‘As always- these costs are passed on to consumers.’

So far, 12 farms across six states have reported H5N1 infections in their cows — including five in Texas, as well as farms in New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Idaho and Kansas. Cows in Iowa are also being tested.

Infected cattle are described as ‘lethargic’, eating less food and producing less milk. But they are not dying from their infections.

But it is not clear how the cows became infected, whether it was via exposure to infected droppings, bird carcasses or another route.

It also is not clear whether the virus is spreading between the animals or if they are being infected by a single source, such as their feed. Most of the cases across the country have been linked back to farms in Texas.

For the human case, there are also many unknowns — including how the patient was infected.

It could have been from direct contact with cows or from touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching their face.

Although many mammals are being infected, experts say there is one species they focus on in particular: Pigs.

These animals have the same receptors in their lungs as humans, meaning an outbreak among them could predict a similar episode in humans.

But, infections are not currently being recorded in pigs. 

According to the CDC, some humans infected with bird flu might not experience symptoms. 

Those who do have reported flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, and fatigue.

Dr Detwiler noted that other serious complications include respiratory failure, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS, which causes fluid to collect in lung air sacs), and multi-organ failure. 

The World Health Organization estimates the fatality rate for H5N1 at 52 percent, based on the 462 deaths recorded since 2003 among the 887 people diagnosed with the virus.

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